Archive for November, 2010

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A matter of perspective

November 15, 2010

The front of the stained glass as seen in the future new books area

The back of the stained glass as seen from my office

Wow.  They have installed the stained glass piece designed and created by Rudy Bushcott.  Rudy is Fort Atkinson’s assistant city engineer.  He gave the library this work of art a number of years ago.  We had it hanging up high, way above our checkout desk.  It was the best spot we could find for it in our old library due to space constraints.    Many people remarked on its beauty over the years.  But just as many people may never have noticed it because the placement and lighting didn’t do it justice.

When we cleaned out the old library, Rudy kindly came in and boxed it up for us so we could transport it to safety because we had plans to reuse it in our new library.

Not too long ago I got a call from site superintendent, Tom Laufenberg.  He said they were ready for it.  So back to the library it went for installation as the window to the director’s office.   The front side faces the new books area; the back side is in my office.  It’s eye level and the light shines through the glass providing the stunning view you see in the photos.

You will notice the view in my office is better than the view from the public side.  I actually asked Tom (as politely and carefully as possible)  if they’d installed it backwards.  He smiled at me and said, “No, Connie, we knew you’d want the front side facing the public.  We asked Rudy which was the front before we installed it.”   He showed me that the cables running down the backside determine orientation.  The difference, of course, is the lighting.  Because my office lights were not fully installed, the darkness of my office lent itself to the perfect viewing of stained glass.  The light from behind illuminates the piece giving it unbelievable depth and richness.  In fact, I could hardly imagine something more beautiful. The first time I saw it I found myself speechless.

In life, as in art, perspective matters.  The stained glass is the same as it has been since the day we first hung it years ago.  But looking at it in a different place changes everything.   When you look at anything in life from another angle you may notice something you missed before.  When you are in the midst of difficulties, it helps to remember that sometimes you actually need darkness before light shines through and repaints your picture.  In my own life, I’ve found that you just have to keep looking until you find the view that yields clarity.  This library project was years in the making and would not have moved forward if many people hadn’t had faith that our library could be expanded and redefined, much like a fully illuminated work of art, because it was brought forward during a very dark economic time.

I’m forever grateful to everyone who shared in the vision and helped.  When all is said and done, libraries are about helping people find their best view of life.   They allow someone to step inside and right into the shoes of another.  They teach people to reach.  They inform, educate, enlighten.  They afford unlimited opportunities for growth.

A library can not only change your perspective, it can change you.

Thank you for helping foster growth in such a beautiful way, Rudy.

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Two doors down…and other changes afoot

November 1, 2010

There is little about our library that hasn’t been considered for change over the course of the last year.  We moved our entire operation last March and have been working on changing our old library building from the inside out since our departure.  (Actually, Joe Daniels Construction Company and its subcontractors have been doing that part.)

As a part of our design, we made the decision to move our front door further down Merchants Avenue.   This is the second time we’ve moved our front entrance.  The first move was made as a part of the 1983 expansion.  At that time we didn’t change our address; we opted to keep it as an East Milwaukee street address even though that had become the side street to the library.  Over the past 27 years, we have realized that having your front door on a street other than your address tends to confuse people.  We are now in the process of making an address change to reflect the fact that our front door is on Merchants Avenue.   When we move back, our address will be 209 Merchants Avenue.

And there are many other changes as well.  The most significant is that we will have two floors of service when we reopen.  That’s a very big difference for staff.  The upstairs will house collections for adults, quiet reading areas, and our research/technology center.  Our lower level will have our checkout area, the children’s library and a room for teens.  Bathrooms and meeting areas will be available on both levels.  We’ll be changing from two meeting rooms to two that are accessible after hours and five that are within the interior of the library.  Our sidewalk has also changed drastically.  The two levels of steps are gone as well as the retaining wall alongside the curb.  The entry is grade-level making accessibility profoundly easier.   The elevator has changed to an machine-room-less (MRL), high efficiency style and is located in the center of the checkout area.   We will have a self-checkout station as well as a staffed checkout.  Our materials return will not be at the front desk anymore but in the entry area accessible from inside and outside.  Our delivery door will move to the back so that all deliveries will be able to go directly into the staff workroom.  Our story time room will be adjacent to the children’s department instead of one floor away.  We are also thinking about changing our library hours based on study of usage patterns and our need to staff our building differently.

Not everything has changed.   You will see parts of our old building you recognize, I promise.  You will also see our valued staff members, in a different space, but with the same service philosophy.

I know change can be daunting and scary.  But it can also be fun and exciting as well as a real opportunity for fostering growth.  I will share with you some words that I refer to for inspiration.

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